Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

First round intrigue

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Richard Cato, blogging from the NFL draft, sums up the first round:

The Detroit Lions came to a record-setting agreement with top pick Matt Stafford late last night. So much for a surprise with the top pick. Luckily the rest of the first round made up for it. From the surprising slide of top wide receiver Michael Crabtree to trades to tough decisions, the first round had some interesting developments.

Following Stafford was Baylor tackle Jason Smith. Defensive End Ty Jackson moved into the top five with a selection by the Kansas City Chiefs which caused a slight slide effect. Linebacker Aaron Curry fell to Seattle at number four. This is a great pickup for the Seahawks.

Then things got interesting.

The Jets made their trade for new “face of the franchise” quarterback Mark Sanchez at number five. Top wide receiver prospect Michael Crabtree slipped down to 10 and Oakland surprised many by taking speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey at seven. Crabtree will undoubtably use this as motivation.

“I always feel like I’m the best” Crabtree said in his interview after being selected by the San Francisco 49ers. On a funny aside, someone mentioned in his interview that though being selected 3 picks later, Crabtree will get the last laugh in the world of video games. On the popular “Madden” football video game series, Crabtree will be rated an 84 while Heyward-Bey is only a 76.

Stafford “overrated”?

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Richard Cato is blogging from the NFL draft:

Cheers of “overrated” greeted top overall pick Matt Stafford as Detroit wasted no time in selecting the quarterback with the number one overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Lions fans, with a strong showing up on the 3rd balcony here at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, were visibly upset and the feeling had nothing to do with his arm strength or abilities as a player.

“I love it and hate it at the same time” said a Lions fan discussing the pick. While franchise quarterbacks are hard to find, it is always tough to swallow guaranteeing USD $41.7 million dollars to a rookie quarterback. And that doesn’t even take the global recession into account, particularly devestating in Detroit. Stafford is guaranteed more money than the contract All-Pro Albert Haynesworth signed this offseason (USD $41 million).

Jets get their man

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Richard Cato is blogging from the NFL draft:

Following the retirement of Brett Farve, the Jets were in the market for a new franchise quarterback.  A timely trade with the Cleveland Browns solved that dillema and at the same time placated the Jets faithful.  Trading its first and second picks in addition to a few minor players, the Jets were able to claim USC standout Mark Sanchez with the 5th pick in the 2009 draft.  Sanchez had gained much attention in the days leading up to the draft.

Jets fans, famous for their limited patience with draft selections over the years, rejoiced as the news of a trade was made.  There was some speculation that they might have chosen Texas Tech stud receiver Michael Crabtree, but it was obvious that the crowd yearned for a quarterback.  Chants of “J-E-T-S” echoed through Radio City Music Hall.  Most fans were confident that they now have their quarterback of the future and a new face for the franchise. 

Credit crunch hits NFL staff

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has taken a pay cut of more than 20 percent as part of league belt-tightening moves that include the elimination of 169 staff jobs, the NFL said on Wednesday.

Goodell took a voluntary cut from the $11 million salary plus bonuses he was to receive for 2008 and agreed to freeze his salary for 2009 along with other executive staff, writes Larry Fine.

Farewell to Favre for a second time

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New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre has retired from the NFL after 18 record-breaking seasons and one Super Bowl championship.

Favre’s decision comes nearly one year after he retired from the Green Bay Packers. The steely 39-year-old, who won the Super Bowl in the 1996-97 season with the Packers, ultimately reconsidered and returned for a one-year stint with the Jets.

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